Mark your calendars – the 2 Year Anniversary and Volunteer Appreciation Party
Coventry Oaks Farm
104 Springside Cutoff Road
Palatka, FL 32177
5pm to 8pm
Cumulative total of pounds rescued and distributed is 4,850,371.
Equivalent cars off the road: 5,578.
· Record month in March: just over 503,560 pounds of food rescued and distributed in St. Johns, Putnam, and Duval Counties. This was a 15% increase from February’s throughput, which was our previous record setting month.
o Duval 11,975
o Putnam 219,708
o St. Johns 271,877
· On Tuesday, March 16th, Public Affairs Officer Antonio Rodriguez came to visit Epic-Cure’s food distribution at Mt. Moriah Church. He and Pastor Anthony Britton are well acquainted and enjoy great rapport. Mr. Rodriguez said that St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO) deputies want to be more active in this neighborhood’s activities.
One week later on the March 23rd Mt. Moriah distribution, two SJCSO officers showed up and jumped right in - with gloves on - to assist with the distribution. Afterwards, they asked if they could bring a few middle school students to volunteer. They will tally the volunteer hours for the students and be help them throughout the distribution. We welcome the SJCO help as well as that of the middle schoolers. It is wonderful that these connections are being made in our community. And, not for nothing, we can always use the help!
· Epic-Cure’s struggles this month…
Each time that Coronavirus stimulus checks have been issued, we have seen a decrease in patron participation at distributions averaging 30% in the first week. It typically takes about 3 weeks to return to normal levels (based on the prior two waves of stimulus checks), but with the timing of this latest round coinciding with tax refunds and the amounts provided being higher, it could take a little longer this time.
At the same time participation was down, we had an increase in the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program boxes (the 31-pound boxes of milk, cheese, other dairy products, product and meat). As you can imagine, this created some serious logistical issues.
We are currently processing about 100,000 pounds a week so imagine trying to find a home for the 30,000 pounds of food normally consumed by our patrons over the course of just six days. By the way, 30,000 pounds is the equivalent two semi-trucks full of food.
To compensate for the reduced patronage and increased supply, we had to change the conversation from “How many families are you picking up for?” to “How many families can you pick up for? Can you share with neighbors, friends, family?”
In addition to that, we opened for additional distributions and called on everyone we know to help get to food into the hands of people even if they were not our patrons. It was either that or let to food sit too long and have to go to the farm for the livestock there.
· Palatka warehouse update: The roof has been replaced. The concrete foundation for the freezer container unit is scheduled for the week of April 5th. The Palatka Housing Authority will give us a list of materials to replace the drop ceiling so we can get that completed, get our “grocery store” area set up, get inspected by the USDA, and transition from drive through distributions to our shopping model.
· Our Saturday distribution at the Elwood site saw participation that was down to only ten families. Initially they were serving about 35 families, but Epic-Cure now has St. Augustine so well covered with many of those families attending one of our other 16 weekly distributions (see map of March distribution locations below) that we must end that distribution. We will add the ten families to our home delivery program so we can allocate our resources (trucks and food) to an area outside of St. Augustine – to expand our reach (ever our goal).
See the following map that identifies all of our distribution sites in the month of March. Some are monthly but most are weekly.
· We did our 2nd joint venture with the Flagler Care Connect Plus Bus. They provided free primary and urgent care and we provided about 13,000 pounds of free food to 200 families in Elkton. Feeding Northeast Florida is as excited as we are about this program and they want to work together. This is an exciting program that we hope will be ongoing and expanding.
· Sustain U. The next Five Star cooking class scheduled for 4/17. The next class is Italian Food, where we will also provide our kitchen package to another veteran transitioning into independent living. If you would be interested in helping purchase items for that veteran, please click the link below for our wish list items for him.
· Great news! Sustain U. will hold its very first cooking class for our friends and partners at … the Wounded Warrior Project! We are proud of this new partnership and will continue to find ways to return the favor. We cherish our veterans and look forward to our first class on May 29th – knife skills with Chef Brian Dowd!
· Installation of the walk-in freezer in the St. Augustine warehouse will be complete on April 10th.
Notes on the graph:
503,560 pounds of food was distributed to 6,603 families. That is approximately 76 pounds of food for each family at each distribution.
What does it cost for Epic-Cure to provide this good food to good people? Take a look at 2021 so far
· We are still looking for a monthly mobile distribution site for a location in one of the following zip codes: 32257, 32258, or 32259.
· What can you do to make a difference at home? In the excerpt below from the Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50% published by ReFED, a non-profit dedicated to ending food loss and waste across the U.S. food system by advancing data-driven solutions, they address waste at the consumer level.
“Households are the greatest source of food waste in the US, making this a critical area for action. In fact, 37% of all surplus food is generated by consumers, for reasons ranging from spoilage, concerns about date labels, fear that something has been left out too long, to simply not wanting leftovers. …
There’s a big opportunity to shift our overall culture to place more value on food and to make sure that people truly understand the implications of food waste for our environment, economy, and more. Retail, foodservice establishments, and homes are environments where the narrative around food purchasing, consumption, and management can be shifted. … More broadly, awareness and education campaigns are an important solution to help shift our culture towards greater appreciation for our food and the resources that went into it.”
· In support of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we are attending 3 awareness events where we will be distributing food:
o on 4/10 at Palatka High School (15,000 pounds),
o on 4/17 at Flagler Hospital (15,000 pounds) and
o on 4/24 at the Flagler Care Connect office in Palm Coast (25,000 pounds).
· If you want to share with your friends to help raise awareness, we put together some “talking points” to boil down what Epic-Cure is all about. You will find these at the end of this newsletter.
· To hear about ongoing volunteer opportunities, please join our Facebook Volunteer Group.
o Charity Roberts, our volunteer coordinator, posts details about our needs every week.
Grants & Fundraising:
· We received award from the St. Johns CARES Act Grant for $50,000.
· We received award from the Putnam County CARES Act Grant for $40,000.
· Waste Pro in Palatka is now donating our recycle dumpster service.
o That is saving us about $300 a month.
· Big thank you to Maureen Winkler!!! She was the volunteer who had our insurance policies reviewed and quoted.
o Her efforts resulted in a savings of almost $5,000 a year and better, more comprehensive auto and liability coverage.
· Our Easter Egg fundraiser raised $505.
· Coming up 5/1 & 5/2 will be our Community Garage Sale (at the Palatka warehouse). If you have any items you would like to donate to this event, please email Jennifer Emerick at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who wishes to see Epic-Cure’s financial statements need only ask.
· Please email your requests to Sunny Mulford: email@example.com
Please watch the movie “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste.”
You can watch it on Amazon or Netflix.
Or, you can "check out" a DVD at our warehouse.
· 30% to 40% of all of the food we produce in the US ends up in landfills.
· 21% of our freshwater resources are used each year to produce that food.
· While that food decomposes it emits methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane gas is 10x worse than excess CO2.
· If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses next to China and the US.
· It takes 25 years for one head of lettuce to decompose in a landfill.
· The USDA's goal is to reduce food waste to 20% by the year 2030.
· Meanwhile, 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure - 1 in 4 now due to Covid. That's the new buzz word - food insecure instead of hungry. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a socioeconomic condition of limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life. Hunger is the physical feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food. Hunger is part of being food insecure.
· We are throwing away the solution to hunger.
· Last year Feeding America and all of its partner agencies rescued 4 billion pounds of food. That is up from 3.6 billion in 2019. Sounds impressive? Not when you consider another 68 billion pounds of food went to waste. We have a long way to go.
· Epic-Cure is currently processing about 1m pounds of food every 2.5 months. We are looking to increase that significantly in 2021.
· We provide it for free, without qualification to anyone that comes to our distributions.
· In 2020 we provided an average of 68 pounds of food to each family each visit.
· Our cost to provide that food was $3.67 per family - $.05 per pound
· Teaching vets and eventually resuming teaching title 1 school children cooking, planning, nutrition => marketable skills + self reliance.
· We are a 100% volunteer organization.